twitterbotsUpdate, Nov. 13 5:10 p.m.: We caught up with Josh Decker, CEO of Tagboard, the Seattle-based social media company specializing in hashtags. He told us that his company has seen a sharp increase in spam on Twitter directly targeting trending hashtags.

“It appears to us that the spam bots in question were simply tweeting about relevant and trending topics in an attempt to circumvent Twitter’s anti-spam filters and appear more like real users,” he said of the #Seahawks bots.

Decker said a high-level analysis of the #Seahawks bots accounts that tweeted “Did anyone else see that amazing comback,” fit the profile of a generic spambot.

“We see zero evidence to support any relationship between the Seahawks and these fake accounts,” Decker said.

Update, Nov. 11, 3:30 p.m.: We just spoke with Kenton Olson, director of digital media for the Seahawks, who told us that the team is not responsible for the bots.

“We’re not behind them,” Olson said. “We already have a great amount of Twitter traffic on gameday and it’s not a priority for us to say that we need more people talking about the Seahawks.”

Olson said that the team is working with the NFL and Twitter to disable the bot accounts.

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Original story: 

Looks like the Seattle Seahawks aren’t just being accused of producing fake crowd noise in the physical world.

Now, a few smart Redditors seem to have caught the Seahawks using Twitter bots to get “#Seahawks” trending this week.

Earlier this week, Reddit user “blodrones” noticed a series of identical tweets with the same typo: “Did anyone else see that amazing comback? #Seahawks.”

Nearly all of the accounts were following zero people and had zero followers — combined with the same misspelling, it was an easy spambot giveaway.

If you do a search for “comback #Seahawks,” there are only a handful of those tweets still out there. Oddly enough, a few of them were posted from what looks like actual accounts — either they’re also bots or all have a tough time spelling “comeback.”

Of course, the Seahawks probably aren’t the first brand to figure out how to drum up chatter in the social media ranks. Sometimes it can be pretty tough to spot the bots — though new technology could make it easier — but regardless, it doesn’t look very good when you’re caught red-handed doing so.

This also makes you wonder how many of Twitter’s 232 million “active monthly users,” are actually active. Regardless, investors didn’t seem to wonder all that much on Thursday.

Update, 8:00 p.m — The Seahawks told us they saw the Reddit thread on Thursday and have been working with NFL and Twitter to “disable the questionable spam accounts.”

“While we are thrilled that fans are using #Seahawks to voice their support for the team, #Seahawks is not a hashtag we actively promote,” a team spokesperson told us.

Comments

  • Dan

    1) The Seahawks DONT pump in crowd noise. This has been a myth goin years back and the NFL has even investigated this accusation years ago and the NFL verified it was a false accusation. 2) I do NOT condone my team using fake bots to boost their mentions. It’s tacky, unnecessary and stupid. I hope this never happens again because it makes fans and the organization look like idiots. Unacceptable!

  • http://barryhurd.com/ barryhurd

    I think it is funny that the accusation reference for real world noise is from 2006.

    On the Twitter side, it is also very common for sporting team and celebrity hashtags to be used as #spamfodder by Twitter bots. It is very difficult to spot and filter out reasonable duplicate content created by real fans as opposed to spam bots simply repeating away. Many of the promotional, contest, and sweepstake type of Twitter tools encourage duplicate content to be pushed out to enter contest and such.

    The most important part of this is that the Seahawks weren’t “caught” doing anything.

    If Twitter came back and said that the bot accounts were all registered by a Seahawks employee using the same IP address or something similar they would be “caught”, otherwise pretty much any social media/digital person (including myself) could setup a few hundred accounts to pump up any #hashtag we wanted.

    • Disgusted

      You know what’s quite ridiculous? The TITLE of this article. Really??? While the print clearly points out that it wasn’t the fault of the Seahawks at all– you draw attention to the article by marring their name in the title? Boo!! There are no loudspeakers to
      “pump in fake noise”, that’s ridiculous, but — how would that be any different from the crap you just pulled with this fake lying title? Go be a lawyer. Psssh.

      • Disgusted

        I’m sorry how that posted as a reply, barryhurd- that wasn’t meant as a reply to you, but as an additional comment TO THE AUTHOR.

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